The United States is somewhat unique among major fishing nations in mandating the rebuilding of overfished stocks within a specified period of time, a requirement first enacted in 1996. This study is based primarily on a review of trends in the 2000–2010 period in fishing mortality and biomass levels of stocks in rebuilding programs, supplemented by recent U.S. and international scientific literature. The major objectives of this study are, first, to assess progress achieved to date in these rebuilding plans, and, second, to identify the most significant obstacles to successful rebuilding. Sufficient data exists to monitor trends in fishing mortality and biomass levels number for just 35 stocks, out of a total 59 stocks that are currently rebuilding or have recently completed the rebuilding process. Most stocks in rebuilding plans are finfish, and the majority of are managed in relatively few fishery management plans governing fisheries in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and northwest Pacific portions of the U.S. 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Therefore, the findings of this report are tentative and do not necessarily reflect broader trends in U.S. federally managed fisheries. This report shows substantial progress in about two-thirds of the 35 rebuilding stocks included in this report. Progress is defined in two ways: either the rebuilding plan has reduced fishing mortality to an acceptably low level, or it has brought about stock recovery to a mandated target. Most significantly, the assessment of rebuilding plan case studies indicates that reductions in fishing mortality, especially when implemented early in the programs and maintained as long as necessary, lead to significant increases in stock abundance in roughly four of five stocks. At the same time, the case studies also show that, in about one-third of the rebuilding plans, recovery measures have not yet produced the desired outcomes. The two most common problems are failure to adequately control fishing mortality and low resilience (high susceptibility to fishing pressure) of certain categories of overfished stocks.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: May 17, 2011
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